Unless you can afford to fly private, traveling on public transit is rarely comfortable for anyone. No matter their size. Lately my fat positive travel group, Fat Girls Traveling has been occupying a lot of my time. One constant in the group is members posting about being anxious and nervous about flying. Sometimes it’s their first flight ever. Other times it’s their first long haul flight. The bottom line is no one wants to make others feel uncomfortable. Living in a bigger body means you might have to take up more space. People feel self-conscious when they think they might need to take more than their share. Should they buy an extra seat? Will they need a seat belt extender? Should they get a window or aisle seat? What if they have to use the bathroom?
Later this year, I’m planning a trip out of the country, which will require me to take my first flight. I’m a little bit afraid of heights and flying in general, but even more than that, I’m afraid to fly because of my size. I’ve avoided it as long as I can, but it’s crazy how much having to face this issue has brought up in the way of self doubt and physical insecurity! I’ve never been as self conscious in my life as I am thinking about squeezing into the tiny seat, struggling with the little belt, asking for a belt extender, dealing with potential rudeness from other passengers… the list goes on. Things that could make the journey a nightmare. But I did find a Facebook group called Flying While Fat, which has been helping assuage my fears. Wish me peace and courage as I plan and go through all these un-dealt-with insecurities. ❤️✈️❤️ #flyingwhilefat #travel #plussizeyogi #plussize #inspiration #happiness #positivevibes #art #artist #artstagram #artistsoninstagram #illustration #plussizeart #plussizetravel
The truth of the matter is, there are things FAR worse than flying while fat, and I’ve had to deal with many of them. Here are five things that will help you keep things in perspective and know, someone had to deal with worse things than sitting next to a fat flyer.
Photo via StockSnap.io
1. Sitting in the middle seat next to assholes who don’t give you both of the armrests.
Every traveler knows that the poor soul in the middle seat gets both armrests. The person in the aisle gets easy access to the bathroom, extra space to stretch out at least half of their body and gets to leave first. The lucky person in the window seat gets the view and a hard surface to lean/sleep on. The person in the middle seat gets the short end of the stick and both of the armrests if their neighbors aren’t jerks.
2. Sitting next to a “loving” couple.
There’s a difference between a little PDA and not being able to keep your hands off of each other. It’s an especially fine line when someone else has to sit inches away from you for hours. I sat next to a couple that was so in love, all they wanted to do was make out and grope each other during our 4-hour flight. It never got to the point where I felt like I was going to be joining the mile high club with them. But there were plenty of times I felt like saying “Get a room!”
3. Sitting next to someone who snores on an overnight flight.
Ok, I know this is technically no one’s fault and there’s very little one can do about their snoring. But it just plain sucks for everyone else on the plane! You’re sleeping soundly (not soundlessly) while I’m wide awake listening to your breathing patterns. Sometimes ear plugs or noise canceling headphones will aid my descent into dreamland. Other times a few hours of shut eye is a lost cause. The absolute WORST is the snoring, drolling snuggler. Not only does this triple threat snore, they want to lay their head on your shoulder that’s now wet with their drool. Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
4. Sitting next to an absentee parent with a small child.
A crying baby is undesirable no matter how long the flight. But more often than not, I can understand why the baby is crying and it usually doesn’t last long. That little brat kicking the back of your seat the entire time. That’s one of my pet peeves. But a flight from London to Atlanta was the epitome of a parenting fail.
I was heading back to the states after a European tour a few years ago. I had the honor of sitting in the middle seat for this 9-hour flight. The lady in the aisle seat was in her late 40’s and the lady in the window seat was in her early 20’s and traveling with her adorable toddler son. He was probably just over a year old and overall a happy baby. His mother was just extremely unprepared. The little cutie and I hit it off immediately. Smiling, waving, exchanging funny faces and baby talk. His mom took notice and when she had to go to the restroom, instead of taking him with her. She asked if I could hold him until she got back. I was raised by a single mother, so I wanted to do my part and help out. After all, it takes a village, right?
When she returned she didn’t immediately take her baby back, she hit me with the “he really likes you! Do you have any kids?” After a quick conversation I was able to pass back her child without saying “Yes, most kids like me. I’m pretty awesome, but I didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for this flight so I could hold YOUR baby the entire time”. Crisis averted. Pretty soon, little dude wasn’t happy and he wanted the entire plane to know it. I suggested that maybe he was hungry as we’d been in the air for a few hours at this point. She said she’d only brought him some teething biscuits and her carry-on was in the front of the plane. I suggested she go get them, which left me once again holding the teething toddler.
The final straw was when I could smell that the little guy was cookin’ something up in his diaper. After years of nannying I’ve developed a pretty good “mom nose” but this was rank and I was surprised his mom didn’t catch the first whiff. As kindly as possible, I told her that I thought her son needed a diaper change. After confirming, she asked if I would be able to help her. In my head, I was like “HELL TO THE NAW! I didn’t help you make that baby, why would I help you change his dirty diaper!?” And although I had helped her manage little man up to that point, dirty diapers is where I draw the line. I politely declined and started watching a movie. Photo by James Walsh on Unsplash
5. Sitting next to someone who is hungover and vomiting.
It’s one thing to hold your besties hair back while she throws up all of her bad decisions from earlier in the evening. Sitting next to someone as they throw up on a plane is a completely different thing! I was on a flight that had a quick layover in Las Vegas. One of those layovers that don’t require you to get off the plane while they board more people. Up until that point. I was sitting alone. The plane was nearly full now and I had two empty seats next to me, it was perfect! Until a lady holding a paper bag sat in the aisle seat. But I still had my window seat, so I was good! Until she started vomiting. We were in Vegas, so I guess she just turnt up a little too much. But let me tell you, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas that time. She vomited for nearly the entire flight. And I almost felt as bad for her as I felt for myself. It was the worst!
Do you have any flight horror stories? Please share them in the comment section below.